Iconic F1 circuit under threat as ambitious rival bid comes to life

Jamie Woodhouse
Saudi Arabian GP Formula 1 paddock entrance.

The Formula 1 paddock entrance.

A bid to bring Formula 1 to Osaka, Japan has come to light, which could spell bad news for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

Formula 1 is enjoying arguably its greatest spike in popularity ever seen, partially stemming from the success of Netflix’s hit docuseries Drive to Survive which has had a direct impact on the demand for a spot on the calendar.

The schedule has grown to 24 rounds for F1 2024, seen as maximum capacity reached by series chief Stefano Domenicali, so the iconic Suzuka circuit will unlikely be thrilled to hear that a rival Japanese F1 bid has now formed.

Could Japanese Grand Prix move to Osaka?

The Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau has confirmed plans to attract Formula 1 to the city, with plans for a street track circuit making use of public roads, as Osaka looks to capitalise on the aniticpated momentum from the Osaka-Kansai Expo which it will host in 2025.

Hiroshi Mizohata, chairman of the Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau, is quoted as having told Japanese publication Sankei Shimbun that this will be a private-sector led push to host a grand prix in Osaka, claiming F1 is shifting to a “business model that can be operated on a private-sector basis”.

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It is an initiative which has the approval of Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura, who formerly as mayor attempted to bring together an F1 street-track event in Yumeshima, scuppered by circuit and financial issues. He confirmed: “I would like to cooperate as much as possible.”

Suzuka could face an immediate threat from this Osaka bid depending on how it progresses, with the circuit’s contract to host the Japanese Grand Prix currently ending following the upcoming 2024 staging.

Suzuka has a storied history in Formula 1 and has played host to many memorable moments, that infamous Ayrton Senna-Alain Prost crash and Kimi Raikkonen’s remarkable 2005 win from 17th on the grid to name a few.

1987 marked the first World Championship grand prix to be held at Suzuka, with the venue having been exclusive host of the Japanese Grand Prix since 2009.

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